Clutter Clearing, causes Spirit Cheering.

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If you’ve been around my blog for any length of time you already know that I’m a foodie in every sense of the word. My parents think I am crazy. My father often remarks that Charlie and I are obsessed with food. (It’s true. We ARE! We are not ashamed!) It’s the first thing we talk about in the morning and the last thing we talk about at night. Our most frequent outings involve seeking out new markets and grocery stores and the most watched channel in our home is of course, The Food Network.

One of the Blessings in our life is being able to creat the Fellowship meal for Crescent Hill Baptist Church once per week. (Having grown up Catholic, I seriously think our religion missed out by not adopting this practice.) I love the fact that once per week, the people of this church meet together to share a meal and fellowship. They probably don’t stop a lot to realize this, but it’s a beautiful practice and I love witnessing it. This Wednesday we’ll return to the kitchen after having had the month of July off and we are ready! In fact, only a select few of them will know it, but we are DOUBLE ready!

Bear in mind that a church, is a church, is a church. Think about the times you have cleaned your home and have found items that you feel still have life and that someone could use? Where do you think about taking them? The church? Yup. Speaking for “THE CHURCH”; it’s always appreciated, but it can get overwhelming. (Example: Once upon a time we had a bunch of last generation Big box big screen TV’s taking up HUGE space in the basement. They still worked! WHO could fit one into a tiny apartment or afford to have it moved?)

And the church kitchen? It’s just about impossible to keep the refrigerators and freezers free of random packaged items that people drop off, afraid to throw away, certain that someone out there can use it. Our cabinets have been stuffed to overflowing with donated plastic containers, cutlery, napkins, etc. for as long as I have been there. We share the space with a school and since the first day I started cooking there, almost seven years ago, I’ve always wanted to go through and organize and clean every single cabinet. I had to wait, however, until it didn’t seem too presumptuous. (LOL!) This past Friday, six+ years into our catering, I finally decided to do it.

Friday Charlie and I cleared our schedules in order to tackle defrosting the Industrial freezer, cleaning out the refrigerator and clearing out about ten years worth of “stuff” from four very large, sprawling cabinets. Both of us worked the entire day, yet we couldn’t finish it all. Monday I went right back in there and tackled the rest and I still didn’t get 100% finished.

Oh, but what we have accomplished makes my heart sing with glee. The entire feeling of the kitchen has changed. I was so grateful when a co-worker walked in and said, “You can literally FEEL the difference in here.” It’s absolutely true!

I am a huge advocate for clearing the energy of a space simply by eliminating clutter and giving it a good old fashioned cleaning. Do you ever feel restless, irritated, or uncomfortable in your home, office, car, or in any other space? Chances are good that you’re existing within trapped energy. You may in fact be tapping into stagnant or even blocked energy, which can have an adverse affect on your spirit. (The church kitchen definitely felt stagnant to me before we cleaned and organized.)

I recently heard the greatest quote from a friend who said, “Turns out, we’re all a little like Pig Pen from Charlie Brown.” We were discussing energy and how even though we don’t see it with the naked eye; we’re constantly walking around in a cloud of particles and we’re unconsciously leaving bits and pieces wherever we may go! Think about the last time you walked into a room just after something negative had happened? You felt it, right? The same goes for starting out in a bad mood and running into someone or something that instantly lightens your spirit. We feel things long before and after we ever say a word.

Now imagine a place like the kitchen I just cleaned. Every nook and cranny had some form of something that was placed there by who knows who? Each little baggie or piece of plastic ware or roll of paper towels arrived already laden with energy. Then it was shoved into a cabinet where it co-mingled with a plethora of other things. Every time a new person used the kitchen or passed through, even more stagnant energy piled up on top. Sounds pretty gross, doesn’t it? (Go on admit it, you’re in the mood to get up and clean house now, aren’t you? ha ha.)

The entire point of my writing this out is to illustrate that if you are experiencing any type of blockage of spirit; an easy and free remedy is right in front of you: Clear your corners! (Translation: clean and organize your space!) When I am at home, I like to burn white sage throughout the house and as an exclamation point, I pull out the Holy water to Bless every room.

Go on. Give it a try.  You can thank me later.

Love,

Bobbe

 


Dearest Lord,

Thank you for the Blessing of reflection. So often lately I am presented with opportunities for growth and learning. I find myself looking back in time fully able to see where I have come from and how I have grown and changed. I strive every day to work for you whether it be ministering to others or simply to get on my knees and clean a cabinet.

Thank you for all of the beautiful people I share this Universe with, especially my family, friends, and the multitude of strangers I encounter, who stir something in my heart.  I know the stirring of my heart is your hand upon on my soul. I love you. Thank you. 

Amen.


“Let all things be done decently and in order.” 1 Corinthians 14:40

 

Church Perks

This popped up in my memories today and it’s just the thing I needed to read. I love how the Universe works this way. ❤

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Very often when least expected, God sends a messenger.

People are shocked when they learn that I suffer tremendously with internal issues of self-worth. Because of this I am nearly always questioning myself. “Did I do that well enough?”; “Am I on the right path?”;”Does anything I do even matter?”;”Does anyone even care about me, really?”;”Am I doing enough?”;”What is wrong with me?”. I could go on and on.

I say people are shocked when they learn this, because I present myself as the exact opposite. Most people who know me think I am the most confident person around and they would never dream that inside, very often I am a mess.

When depression attempts to pull me under, I go on the offense; slapping the fake smile on, forcing myself to “go the extra mile”, etc. I have learned through years of practice that when I am successful with my efforts, God always meets me half way with something glorious. This is what carries me through.

The other day I was in my tiny office in the back of the church when I heard an African man talking to the ladies at the front desk. First of all, I love that accent, so my ears perked up when he started talking.

He had been to a ministry several blocks away from our location in order to receive financial assistance with his rent. As he told his story, I could tell he was very upset. He explained that he understood we are not affiliated with them, but as he was driving by the church, he felt compelled to come inside to talk through it.

Apparently, over a month ago he’d been granted financial assistance (by the other ministry) with his rent so he thought everything was fine. However, when he retrieved his mail that morning, he found an eviction notice. Fearful, he jumped in the car and went back to the Ministry, only to be treated as if he’d never been there.

Under ordinary circumstances I am not the one who handles people who walk in the office for help, but on this day, because of the dire situation, I felt compelled to intervene. So I went out, introduced myself, asked for his paperwork, told him to have a seat, and went back to my office to call the person who leads that Ministry. As it happens, in addition to my part-time work at the church, I also do the finances for the Ministry in question.

Coincidence? I don’t believe in such things.

After a few back and forth calls, it was determined that his file had been misplaced and indeed, the payment for his rent had not been made. A few more calls were made, including one to his Landlord, who accepted the explanation and agreed to wait to receive the past-due rent and I was able to walk back out and tell him his situation was remedied. By this time, hours had passed, and this poor man who had been in the office so upset and nervous finally had relief. He thanked everyone in the outer office and then asked to speak with me privately.

Inside my office, he took both of my hands in his and asked me if I would allow him to pray with me. Tears streamed down my face as I listened to this man, a stranger, praise God for having prompted him to stop into my office. He thanked God for me; he asked God to continue to place me in the path of people who need my help; he told God to continue to use me as his instrument; to continue to allow me to minister, not just in the finance office, but in the community. He said that when he entered the office he was scared and afraid and he felt alone and hopeless and that because of my actions, he was leaving renewed and restored and secure in the knowledge that God still listens to prayers and offers aid in remarkable ways. He mentioned the angels and he called me “one of God’s earth angels”. It was beautiful.

In other words,God met me half-way with something glorious that I would never have imagined for myself. Depression lifted. Joy inserted.

It was as if the Lord, Himself, stood right in front of me and said, “Yes, daughter, you ARE worth it. You ARE appreciated. You ARE loved. You ARE doing exactly what I expect of you. I love you. I love you. Carry on.”

And so I will.

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This That JOY!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If you are having issues with angst and depression or you just need to uncover your own joy; find something to do that’s in service of someone else.

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I think I’m victim of the change of seasons. One day it’s perfectly beautiful here and the next it’s forty degrees. I’ve had a low fever coupled with a few random symptoms for a while now. While I don’t think it’s serious, it’s enough to make me feel run down and achy. Yesterday was the first day I considered staying home from work because of it. Not only did I not feel up to going to do my regular work, Charlie and I had slated ourselves to help with kitchen duty for the Church’s weekly, parish-wide meeting. I decided to push through and I am EVER so happy I did!

Who knew how much fun it would be to get to cook in a huge kitchen and then serve a huge group of people? I know it’s not every person’s idea of a great time, but it is mine. I love to cook and being in that kitchen took me back to grade school days where the biggest worry I carrived was whether to choose french fries or mashed potatoes.

The harder I worked, the better I felt and when it came time to stand on my side of the table and serve the people coming through the line, in true Grinch fashion, I felt my heart start to grow and grow. It was so fun to look across and see all of the faces and take a moment to try to make each one of them smile. I think by the time the night was over, I was floating a few feet above the ground and my illness? What fever? What symptoms?

Last night I revisited the Bobbe of days gone by, who IS very social and loves to cater to people. I do know where my joy comes from…it’s in connecting with and in serving others. Trust me when I say that not every person I encountered yesterday had a bright, shining face, and not everyone was responsive. It didn’t matter. Joy’s got game; it doesn’t recognize snarls and snarky remarks. Joy only sees other people with compassion and love.

I would have been justified if I’d chosen to stay home yesterday. Thank GOD I didn’t or I’d have missed the most fun I’ve had in quite a long while.

When I finally collapsed in bed last night I truly felt I’d been of good service. Nothing replaces that feeling, except perhaps what it feels like to first be falling in love. I think joy lives equally in both experiences.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If you are having issues with angst and depression or you just need to uncover your own joy; find something to do that’s in service of someone else. Go out of your way to be kind when you don’t feel like it. Help someone who cannot reciprocate. Offer a heartfelt compliment to a stranger. Tutor a student. Visit with the elderly. Find something to do that takes the focus OFF of you and places it onto someone else.

Joy lives there.


ACTION

An Angel Reminder: A man is the origin of his actions. Aristotle

Action is movements. It is the exertion of energy or influence. As humans, we are in action a lot of the time. We take action, or we go in and out of action. If we are the origin of our actions as Aristotle said, then who are you? What have your actions in the past hour said about you? How about in the past year? How about your actions toward certain people? What is is that your actions are trying to get across? Once we take action in response to something, we can’t undo the action. We can know many things, but we will never really know the effect of and extent of all our actions.

Think about your actions today. Think about the actions of the angels. Is it always possible to think before we act? Do you recognize all your actions, or do you sometimes look back and ask, “Did I do that?” Ask the angels for help in acting consciously, with courage and compassion.

An Angelic Reflection: With the angels in my life, I can be a true action hero.

(Angel Courage: Terry Lynn Taylor & Mary Beth Crain (c)1999, Harper Collins San Francisco)


From The Angels:

answered-prayer Answered Prayer: Each day connect with your soul allow the divine light in. Your prayers have been answered.

In your life find a way to experience spiritual devotion through prayer or meditation in a way that brings out devotional qualities. These qualities or energies are healing. They drive away anger. All of your prayers are always answered.

The angels request that you be observant of everything you see, hear, touch, taste, smell, or sense in any way it is an aspect of Divinity.

celebration Celebration: This time of light is a time of rejuvenation, of recharging your batteries. Take time to celebrate and rejoice in the uplifting of spirits. Lighten up. Acknowledge your diligence and give yourself credit and appreciation for all that you have accomplished. Stop and smell the roses. Stop to appreciate the beauty and majesty that is present in your lives.

Focus on what you are creating, not what is crumbling. Remember: neutral compassion, this is especially important for what is in your personal experience. Witness and bless. All the angels join with you in celebrations of light at this time, it is by this light that you are united, and by this light that you have created all that is on its way to you. What a glorious time to rejoice in all that is good and all that is true.

Don’t give up – for while it appears that you are on a solitary path, you are supported by reams of fellow beings of light on all around you. If you do nothing else at this time of celebration, remember the unseen party that is going on everywhere!

image Serenity: You are free from stress and your disposition is of greater inner peace and tranquility.

Even if your unable to resolve a current task at hand, your peace of mind and faith will allow you to trust that the angels and God will take care of you. If something in your life isn’t working, be willing to release it to God and the angels.

The angels reassure you that tranquility and refreshed peace of mind is within you. As you work toward serenity, and inner peace your life’s unforeseen problems begin to lessen and disappear.


Blessed are they who give
without expecting even thanks in return,
for they shall be abundantly rewarded.

Blessed are they who translate
every good thing they know into action,
for ever higher truths shall be revealed unto them.

Blessed are they who do God’s will
without asking to see results,
for great shall be their recompense.

Blessed are they who love and trust their fellow beings,
for they shall reach the good in people and
receive a loving response.

Blessed are they who have seen reality, for they know
that not the garment of clay but that which activates
the garment of clay is real and indestructible.

Blessed are they who see the change we call death
as a liberation from the limitation of this earth-life,
for they shall rejoice with their loved ones
who make the glorious transition.

Blessed are they who after dedicating their lives
and thereby receiving a blessing, have the courage and faith
to surmount the difficulties of the path ahead,
for they shall receive a second blessing.

Blessed are they who advance toward the spiritual path
without the selfish motive of seeking inner peace,
for they shall find it.

Blessed are they who instead of trying to
batter down the gates of the kingdom of heaven
approach them humbly and lovingly and purified,
for they shall pass right through.

Peace Pilgrim’s Beatitudes – Mildred Norman


I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy
Down in my heart
Down in my heart
Down in my heart

I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy
Down in my heart
Down in my heart to stay

And I’m so happy
So very happy
I’ve got the love of Jesus in my heart
And I’m so happy
So very happy
I’ve got the love of Jesus in my heart

 

 

Church Lady Woes

In a nano second my mind wandered away, thinking about how much I love my work and the many positive experiences I get to have while working in a church that isn’t of my denomination.

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This morning before I got out of bed, I laid there in an attempt to pray. I was lying there asking God to take care of my loved ones and to keep everyone happy, healthy and secure. Also I was seeking help on my current employment situation. (I am just not sure I am supposed to be where I am any more.)

In a nano second my mind wandered away, thinking about how much I love my work and the many positive experiences I get to have while working in a church that isn’t of my denomination. I am Catholic. I work for a liberal Baptist church. Their hands are in everything imaginable and it’s a beautiful thing to witness and on occasion, to get to be involved in.

What has always interested me about this job is what goes on behind the scenes. Growing up a Catholic girl, I only experienced Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation Masses, funerals and Weddings. Aside from the one time as an adult that I joined a new church, I don’t recall ever setting foot inside a church office.

(Wait. There was one other time where I visited a favorite Priest to talk with him about my experience with The Blessed Mother and the Angels. That was a lovely experience I will talk about another day.)

The point is that I don’t think I ever thought about what goes into running a church. Who makes the decisions;how do things operate; how do the bills get paid; where does the money come from? Who steers the direction? Who decides what events to have, etc. Does “The church lady” really exist?

It is mind boggling. (She does exist, by the way, and she has lots of church lady friends.)

Catholics look to the clergy and the clergy have a very clear hierarchy. Most Catholic Churches have a Parish administrator who handles the business end of their affairs and there isn’t much wiggle room. This is not the case where I work. Everything done within my workplace is done by committee. One team handles personnel, another team handles, finances, another team handles worship, another team handles memorials and so on, and on, and on. Every three years the teams rotate.

For the most part everything works out just fine, but there are some years where the tides turn and I start to feel frustrated when things are done that I personally do not agree with. Usually problems occur when someone appears to be acting out of ego instead of what’s in the best interest of the church. This is where I am right now. I don’t like ego-driven anything especially when it interferes with my work happiness.

For the first time I find myself seriously questioning whether or not I am in the right place. It makes me sad.

Returning to my prayers with apologies to the Lord for being so distracted, I hear in my heart:

Dear Child:

Be still and know that I am near. You will hear my direction when your heart is clear and the time is right. For now, offer your best in all that you do. Do take better care of your temple. In this, you will find your joy.

Breathe in. Fill yourself with my love. It is there.

All is well.

God.


Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?  Matthew 6:25-34


From the Angels:

divine-timing Divine Timing: Change can be fast, yet keep in mind the importance of patience and Divine timing, developing a trust in the unseen mysteries of spirit working in your life.

The more that you can approach your own shifting with loving kindness, the smoother your road of change will be. On some days it may still feel like a roller coaster ride, yet your self-love can help you to have the necessary steadiness within.

Pay close attention to doors that are open to you. As you continue the journey of rediscovering your Divine nature, angels surround you with their love and blessings.

imageHealing: The highest purpose of your healer guides is to restore your self-awareness and self-esteem as children of God and help you accept the love and unlimited blessings that God grants you.

Opening your heart and mind to your worthiness is the best healing of all.

harmony Harmony: Strife, confusion and conflict be gone. A difference of opinion has clouded your thoughts.

If you change your focus and look for the common ground of peace, you can bring harmony into your relationships again.

You know that one of the most powerful ways you can fight for your relationships is to be a peacemaker? Beloved child of God, you are a peace-lover at heart. You are bringing unity into your relationships.

Focus and look for the common ground of peace, you can bring harmony into your relationships again, you become an Earth angel. Remember, God and the angels tells us that blessed are the peacemakers. When we dwell together in unity, we honor God and open the door for His hand of blessing in every area of our lives!


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Life is a tapestry: We are the warp; angels, the weft; God, the weaver. Only the Weaver sees the whole design.

 

A Sign from Padre Pio

Padre Pio was attacked just about every day, his miracles were scrutinized, his wounds were scientifically examined, he was weak all the time for lack of blood, yet his faith in God never once wavered. He didn’t quit when it was hard…it was hard EVERY day.

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The other day I told you the story of my new friend, Tenskawata (Open Door), from the Shawnee Tribe.  A lot of you wrote and said you loved hearing the story and I thank you for this.  It’s always a little nerve wracking to open up and speak about what actually goes on in my life.  ha!

As I’ve stated a million times, the more open we are to receiving our signs and messages from beyond, the more abundant they become!  It’s important to note that when I say, “from beyond”, I’m using this as a “catch-all” phrase for all things of super natural origin.  For me this includes, God first, and also the Universe, the angels, Saints, loved ones, and spirit guides.  “Universe” for me even includes signs in nature.  I realize it’s a vast definition but how vast is this place we live?

I had another visit last night that came in the form of a dream.  I asked specifically for a dream, because I wasn’t in the mood to be startled awake by a presence in the room.  I did receive a dream.  I won’t relate it here because it’s personal for me and for the two others I requested it for, but suffice it to say, “Ask, Believe, Receive”.

I will tell you that for about three months I’ve suffered with a terrible case of hives on my forearm.  Just yesterday I noticed it spreading and it’s really bothering me.  As I was falling asleep last night I heard something on TV say, “some Native Americans have remarkable healing abilities through their spirituality”.  The thought occurred to me to ask for my arm to be healed OR AT LEAST to be relieved of the itching.  So I did.

This morning the rash is still there though not as pronounced and I have had no itching since last night.  Coincidence?  I think not.

What I wanted to talk about today is something that happened during Sunday Mass this past weekend.  We attend a church that I simply adore.  It took us a long time to find this place.   We feel immense comfort inside and the other parishioners seem to be just as laid back as we are.  I have two favorite Priests there.  One is from Africa and truly exudes joy and the other is an elderly man, who to me, seems to be one of the “Holiest” of all the Priests I’ve ever known.  (I can’t explain what it is about him that makes me feel this…but I feel it and this is what’s important.)

I can be in the worst possible mood going into this place and the moment I sit down, I start to feel the layers come off.  This past Sunday I was downright giddy and giggly to the point that I was almost bothering Charlie.  LOL.  Every time he looked over at me I was flashing an ear to ear smile.  Typically this would make him start to laugh, but this past Sunday, he wasn’t really laughing.  I decided I was probably being disrespectful causing him distraction so I attempted to contain myself.

About half way through, I looked up and was elated to see St. Padre Pio standing just to the right of our Priest.  I sat there a few minutes watching him go through the exact motions our Priest was and I giggled.  The moment I broke concentration to look away, he was gone.  When I gathered myself and went back, I’d see him again.  This only went on about three minutes but that’s as long as it takes.  I knew it was a sign…(perhaps just to tell me to stop being such a giggle box and pay attention. So I did.)

Padre Pio is special to me because he was my Grandfather’s favorite.  Because of this, I’ve read several books on the man’s life and I’ve prayed to him on numerous occasions to intercede for me.  One of his many signs is the aroma of violets (my favorite flowers) and once a million years ago, I was Blessed to get to smell them as a sign of his presence.

His is a fascinating life story.  I won’t get into all of it here, but I encourage you, if you are curious, to go and do some research.   Get a book and read about this man’s life.  Incredible stuff.  In short, he was a Catholic Priest who bore the stigmata (wounds of Christ) for most of his life.  He is very well know for bi-locution…meaning he is believed to have manifested himself in more than one place at a time.  He had a special devotion to the Blessed Mother and his miraculous healing work is well documented.

So there I am sitting next to Charlie seeing this.  I was overcome with joy and could not figure out why Charlie didn’t seem to be his normal self.  He looked a bit bothered,, which I chalked up to my being so goofy.

Days later, AFTER I finally told him about Tenskwata’s visit, I decided to go ahead and tell him about seeing Padre Pio on Sunday. ( I’d kept this to myself because believe it or not, there are things I actually prefer to keep quiet.)  Before I’d even finished telling him, his eyes grew wide and he said, “OMG!  WHERE WAS he?”  When I told him he gulped.  He had seen something as well but he chalked it up to shadows playing tricks with his mind.

What did he see?  Well, it may sound very strange but at the very same time I was seeing Padre Pio to the right of the Priest, Charlie was seeing what he says looked like the shadow of a demonic being standing just next to him.  He confessed this is why he was so somber during Mass, half thinking he was seeing things and the other half wondering why he would see such a thing on the alter next to a Priest.

Part of Padre Pio’s story has to do with the fact that it is said that for the many years he had the stigmata, he was also tormented by demonic beings.  I recall reading how the other Priests would sit outside Padre Pio’s room at night, keeping vigil, while they heard all sorts of horrible noises coming from inside his room.  In the morning he’d be weak and beaten, bruised and of course bleeding, but he never missed saying a Mass.

What in the WORLD does this all mean?  Well for me, it’s confirmation that I wasn’t imagining things.  Since I know some of the history of Padre Pio, this is just part of the sign letting me know what I experienced is real.  Do I think the Padre is still being tormented by the devil?  No way.  I do know that wherever goodness is present, darkness tries to loom but never wins.

For me it seems to be a continuation of the same message I keep receiving which translated says, “Keep moving forward and don’t stop, no matter what happens.”

For Charlie it’s confirmation that our church hasn’t been invaded by demonic beings.  HA!  Do I think it was a real demonic being standing on the alter?  Nope.  I think he was meant to see this so that we’d talk about it and that’s all there is to it.

I wonder how much we would learn from one another if the fear of being labeled “crazy” wasn’t present?

Sometimes people tell me that as soon as they reach a place in life where they feel they are finally on the right track, something comes along almost instantly to knock them off and keep them down.  I think we all feel this way every now and then and it does get so frustrating.  It’s these times we are supposed to draw God closer, pray harder and refuse to give up.  Nothing can knock us down faster than our own psyche telling us, “this is too hard…I’m tired…I give up”.

Padre Pio was attacked just about every day, his miracles were scrutinized, his wounds were scientifically examined, he was weak all the time for lack of blood, yet his faith in God never once wavered.  He didn’t quit when it was hard. It was hard EVERY day.  Despite all he went through he experienced immense joy and he exuded light to all he encountered and I believe with my whole heart, that in giving he received on a daily basis.

Times are hard for almost all of us but we don’t have to remain stuck in that hardness.  It’s a decision.

Ask.  Believe.  Receive.

padre-pio

 

Church Perks

This popped up in my memories today and it’s just the thing I needed to read. I love how the Universe works this way. ❤

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Very often when least expected, God sends a messenger.

People are shocked when they learn that I suffer tremendously with internal issues of self-worth. Because of this I am nearly always questioning myself. “Did I do that well enough?”; “Am I on the right path?”;”Does anything I do even matter?”;”Does anyone even care about me, really?”;”Am I doing enough?”;”What is wrong with me?”. I could go on and on.

I say people are shocked when they learn this, because I present myself as the exact opposite. Most people who know me think I am the most confident person around and they would never dream that inside, very often I am a mess.

When depression attempts to pull me under, I go on the offense; slapping the fake smile on, forcing myself to “go the extra mile”, etc. I have learned through years of practice that when I am successful with my efforts, God always meets me half way with something glorious. This is what carries me through.

The other day I was in my tiny office in the back of the church when I heard an African man talking to the ladies at the front desk. First of all, I love that accent, so my ears perked up when he started talking.

He had been to a ministry several blocks away from our location in order to receive financial assistance with his rent. As he told his story, I could tell he was very upset. He explained that he understood we are not affiliated with them, but as he was driving by the church, he felt compelled to come inside to talk through it.

Apparently, over a month ago he’d been granted financial assistance (by the other ministry) with his rent so he thought everything was fine. However, when he retrieved his mail that morning, he found an eviction notice. Fearful, he jumped in the car and went back to the Ministry, only to be treated as if he’d never been there.

Under ordinary circumstances I am not the one who handles people who walk in the office for help, but on this day, because of the dire situation, I felt compelled to intervene. So I went out, introduced myself, asked for his paperwork, told him to have a seat, and went back to my office to call the person who leads that Ministry. As it happens, in addition to my part-time work at the church, I also do the finances for the Ministry in question.

Coincidence? I don’t believe in such things.

After a few back and forth calls, it was determined that his file had been misplaced and indeed, the payment for his rent had not been made. A few more calls were made, including one to his Landlord, who accepted the explanation and agreed to wait to receive the past-due rent and I was able to walk back out and tell him his situation was remedied. By this time, hours had passed, and this poor man who had been in the office so upset and nervous finally had relief. He thanked everyone in the outer office and then asked to speak with me privately.

Inside my office, he took both of my hands in his and asked me if I would allow him to pray with me. Tears streamed down my face as I listened to this man, a stranger, praise God for having prompted him to stop into my office. He thanked God for me; he asked God to continue to place me in the path of people who need my help; he told God to continue to use me as his instrument; to continue to allow me to minister, not just in the finance office, but in the community. He said that when he entered the office he was scared and afraid and he felt alone and hopeless and that because of my actions, he was leaving renewed and restored and secure in the knowledge that God still listens to prayers and offers aid in remarkable ways. He mentioned the angels and he called me “one of God’s earth angels”. It was beautiful.

In other words,God met me half-way with something glorious that I would never have imagined for myself. Depression lifted. Joy inserted.

It was as if the Lord, Himself, stood right in front of me and said, “Yes, daughter, you ARE worth it. You ARE appreciated. You ARE loved. You ARE doing exactly what I expect of you. I love you. I love you. Carry on.”

And so I will.

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Day 5 Progress Report. God Sees.

As I reflect back on the week, I am reminded of what I have always known: when I suit up and show up and do the work with God in front, miracles happen. God isn’t just for the big stuff, He’s here for us for all things and He responds in all sorts of wonderful ways.

i-can-do-it

Amazing grace, I made it to Friday! Wednesday and Thursday were really hard days for me, but I had armed myself with my “plan-ahead” weapons, so I made it!

To recap: Monday I began a two-week jump-start project which I am calling, “return-to-me”. For two weeks I am working on rehabbing my tired body, mind and spirit. For me this means more prayer, replacing breakfast and lunch with protein shakes, eating a healthy dinner, limiting alcohol and writing (because it feeds my spirit.)

I knew Wednesday and Thursday would be  trigger days for me because they are the most stressful of each week. Wednesdays my hubs and I work until 1:00 PM and then we head into the kitchen of a local church, where we create, serve and clean up after their Fellowship Meal. Usually this meal serves about 100 people, but sometimes it can rise to 150. This week we served pork tenderloin.

So you get the idea, it’s laborious, but glorious. I always go home smiling when the people are full and they’ve loved the meal. (In case you are curious, the sides were wild rice and a veggie medley of carrots, broccoli and cauliflower with a three bean salad or coleslaw plus cake and brownies for dessert.) We aren’t playin’!

My Thursday afternoons from 1 until 4:30 are spent with my aging parents. While I am so grateful both of my parents are still here on earth for me to visit, it can be hard at times. (This is a story for another blog, though.) I usually arrive home emotionally drained in some form or fashion.

The problem for me on both of these days is that we have fallen into the habit of evening cocktails on these nights. Everything is so stressful, it’s a nice feeling to get home, change clothes, flop in our favorite chairs and sip on whatever it is that we’ve decided upon for that night-sometimes it’s wine; sometimes it’s vodka; sometimes other things. The bottom line is, this is what we’ve done for years, so it’s a habit that we equate with “reward”.

I knew this would be an issue at the beginning of the week so I intentionally prepared for it. Wednesday morning I woke to my usual prayers for strength and perseverance, then I wrote in my prayer journal. I planned to eat a meal at church just before going home so I would be full. Even with all of this, the drive home a battle raged inside my mind.

“Just one won’t hurt.”, said my ego.

“You made a commitment! And you’ve prayed to God, too! If you do this, it’s like you are quitting on God, ya know. You have to give Him a chance to work.”, said my heart.

“Drat! Blasted Heart! But still, you don’t have to do this all at once, ya know.”, said Ego.

“If not now, when? I’ve prayed over this and over it. God will help me fight you when I get home, now shut up.”, said Heart.

“Still”, Heart thought silently, “What if I fail yet again? Why can’t I just do this?”.

When we arrived home, I went straight upstairs opting for a long, hot bath, which has always been a source of comfort. While I was in there I prayed again for strength and I thought about just what I was asking for and why. (Aren’t I worthy of having the life I was intended to have? I am. It’s up to me to do the work in order to get back there. I’ve let things go for TOO long-taking care of everyone else. It’s time for ME. If not now, WHEN?)

So I went downstairs, had a banana, flopped on the couch and turned on a comedy show. Later, I went to bed happily thanking God for seeing me through the day.

Last night, having battled through Wednesday night, I knew what to expect out of that darned ego-talk. Even though I was prepared the same as the night before and EVEN though I knew Friday was slated to be “cheat night”, as far as dinner and cocktails are concerned, it was still THE hardest time I’ve had. I went to my parents per usual, then stopped at the grocery on the way home (my happy place) in order to select something I’d like to cook for dinner. (This is my way of tweaking the usual routine.) I even went so far as to go to a market I do not frequent. I selected some nice filets, fresh asparagus and I planned on serving the last of the fresh squash I’d made nights before. I even bought two tiny cheesecakes as a treat. Then, I stopped at Redbox and rented a funny movie as a non-food, non-alcoholic activity.

Still, when I arrived home the temptation to throw it all out the window, met me right at the front door. Blasted demon ego!

“Look, you made it past Wednesday! Isn’t THAT enough? You are stressed and sad. You can make up for this later. Next week you can tackle Thursday over! Have a drink. If it makes you feel better, you can skip dinner!”, Ego quipped as if it were nothing.

This time my heart was silent. Instead, I thought of what I’d written in my journals to God. I thought about what I really want. I thought about why I started this in the first place. I thought of starting over and over and over again, never making it over the hump.

“Darn it. This is ridiculous. I am worth MORE than sitting on the stupid couch with a stupid cocktail.”, said Heart.

Just then, I remembered I’d ordered a special herbal bath potion to soak in. Walking to the mailbox I told myself if it was there, I’d use that as my reward. It was.

Determined, I went back into the house, made a nice salad, and sat down and ate it so I would not be hungry while I prepared dinner. After dinner, I headed up the stairs and took a glorious, “I DID IT” soak!

And so here I am today. It’s Friday. (Tonight, I get to have wine and homemade pizza and it doesn’t even feel important any more.)

As I reflect back on the work-week, I am reminded of what I have always known: when I suit up and show up and do the work with God in front, miracles happen. God isn’t just for the big stuff, He’s here for us for all things and He responds in all sorts of wonderful ways. There is something to be said for journaling thoughts, hopes, dreams, prayers etc. to God. (I think it cements things in the heart more securely.) Is it necessary to do so in order to communicate with God? Absolutely not. (In fact, I’m sure there are some people out there who will be offended that this is one of the ways I choose to be connected. Oh well.)

Having said all of this, I am fully aware that after tonight, I still have to go through Saturday and Sunday in order to truly say I had a successful week. (This is a Holiday weekend so I know it will be a little harder.) These days I really am trying to keep focused on the day at hand. While I do plan ahead,the object is to keep my emotions and my determination centered on “one-day-at-a-time”.

So color me grateful. I know God sees me and I like to think He’s happy with my tiny bit of progress. I am feeling joyful beyond measure! The bonus factor that I knew when I began this is that I’m feeling closer to God than before. Lest you think all I do is pray about getting through these two weeks, among other things, I also pray that my relationship with all things spiritual, especially God, continue to strengthen. It’s working.

NOTE: Although I missed a couple of days blogging, I am still here, and I am not going anywhere. Admittedly, this is a lot of harder to do than my blogs of days-gone-by where I had a set routine and outline to follow each day. I WILL persist!

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So you have a visual, here is a photo of the tiny journal I keep in my purse. I pull it out and write in it whenever and  I have something on my heart. (The first page I always use for my favorite verses.) When I get home later, I’ll photograph the book I use there. It’s similar but large. The one below is about five 1/2 inches by 3 and 3/4″. It fits perfectly inside my purse.

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BTW, if I talk about food, I will always leave the recipe here:


Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients:

  • (2) 1/2 lb Tenderloins (1 package of tenderloin has two 1/2 lb tenderloins inside)
  • 4 tablespoons
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Any seasoning blend you like. I used a prepared one that had garlic, lemon, oregano, chili pepper etc.) You can even use prepared rubs OR just make your own with whatever you like–you want enough to coat the Tenderloin all over.
  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. balsamic vinegar
  • Fresh ground pepper (to taste)
  • Kosher salt (to taste)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • On a baking sheet, sprinkle each tenderloin with the balsamic vinegar. Rub it into all sides.
  • Drizzle olive oil and rub into all sides.
  • Coat with your seasonings (or prepared rub)
  • Let the pork sit for up to 20 minutes prior to cooking.
  • Roast in hot oven for 20 minutes. If it still gives a lot to the touch, flip it and let it go for 6-8 minutes.

Meanwhile:

While the pork is cooking, to a sauce pan add the following:

  • 1 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. honey

Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Let the sauce reduce by half until it will coat a spoon. When your pork comes out, drizzle it over the top prior to serving.